Coronavirus: Financial planning advice for newlyweds amid pandemic

Here are a few tips to help any new couple start off their married life on solid financial footing.

A BRIDE and groom during their scaled-down wedding ceremony last year. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
A BRIDE and groom during their scaled-down wedding ceremony last year.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
 “I think a lot of people get so obsessed with the wedding and the expenses of the wedding that they miss out on what the real purpose is. It’s not about a production number, it’s about a meaningful moment between two people that’s witnessed by people that they actually really know and care about.” –Jane Seymour
I can’t remember the last time I was at a wedding. Definitely more than a year ago. Well that streak will end on Sunday as my nephew is getting married in a scaled back corona compliant wedding. I’ll take the opportunity to wish a big mazal tov to Savta and Sabba (grandma and grandpa), my brother and sister in law, and of course the happy couple. I personally love the idea of these small corona weddings. First off, so much money is saved by the parents. Money that can either be given to help the newlyweds get a head start financially on their new life together, or can just be saved and kept for other weddings, retirement, etc. Second, I think the aforementioned Jane Seymour quote nails it. There is something very special about an intimate wedding. It also helps us focus on what’s important and getting back to basics, a theme I have written about many times, as one of the positives that has come out of the pandemic.
Each partner in a marriage needs to treat the other with respect, especially when it comes to money issues. I once wrote about a meeting I had with newlyweds, and the conversation has been something I never forgot. “A few months ago I spoke with a husband who came from an extremely wealthy family. His wife did not. She wanted to take a course in graphic design, and when she asked her husband for a check, he said that he was writing down the cost of the course and it would be considered a loan! She would need to pay him back for the course. I told him that I thought that was a terrible idea, and that having his wife ‘owe’ him money was a recipe for disaster.”
I think it’s okay for one of them to take a more day to day role dealing with the finances but they should both be in the loop when it comes to financial decisions and both should know about all bank and investment accounts.
Here are a few tips to help any new couple start off their married life on solid financial footing.
Order
Make a list of all income, assets, and debts – including credit cards and loans that you each bring into the marriage.
Get all your accounts updated, especially if there is a name change involved. Don’t wait until you are about to make a trip and then have to scramble to change the name on your passport. Same goes for adding names to bank accounts, changing names on credit cards, driver’s license and with the National Insurance Institute. You will also need to name your spouse as a beneficiary on certain investment accounts.
Budget
Start keeping track of all money spent and earned. When two people who have been living independently suddenly become one unit, spending can spin out of control as each spouse continues to spend on what they are used to, blind to their new reality. In many cases certain expenses will shrink as spending for two individuals is more costly than expenses for a married couple. Make sure that monthly and annual expenses do not exceed income to avoid getting into an overdraft situation.
This is a golden opportunity for the newlyweds to start off their marriage by living within their means. If good financial habits are reinforced at an early stage, they are much more likely to become habitual and the couple will live in a financially responsible manner, and avoid the pitfalls of financial mismanagement that plague so much of society.
The future is now
As soon as possible, a new couple should start a disciplined monthly/annual savings plan. It is a good idea to use some of the wedding money for this purpose. Many couples receive a substantial amount of money as wedding gifts, and investing this money wisely can help them get on the path to financial security. If a couple starts saving immediately, it makes future expenses much easier to deal with.
Mazel tov Tamar and Dani!
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates.
The writer is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; [email protected]